Since 2013, homeowners have been able to apply for an extension of their standard permitted development rights to allow them to construct rear extensions to a depth of 6m (or 8m on a detached house).
Initially, this was intended to be a permitted development right like any other (i.e. a simple adjustment to Class A to substitute the increased depth limits for the existing).
However, the government listened to concerns that some of these extensions might negatively affect neighbours through a loss of light and outlook, so it introduced a light-touch application process (known as the neighbour consultation scheme) by which applicants must first seek prior approval from their local council.
The prior approval application process is much more straightforward than a planning application. The applicant must submit a short application form or covering letter, a block plan showing the location of the extension and a fee of £96. The council consults adjoining neighbours and then, if none of them object, must inform the applicant that prior approval is not required. In other words, if neighbours do not object, the council has no power to refuse the application and the extension to the depth proposed is permitted development.
If a neighbour does object, the council must assess the development in terms of its likely impact on all of the adjoining neighbours (not just the one who objected). The council cannot assess the extension on any other planning grounds (such as its design, impact on the streetscene, flood risk etc). If the council decides that the extension will harm a neighbour’s amenity (typically in terms of overshadowing or a loss of outlook), it may refuse prior approval and your extension will not be considered permitted development.
In about 70% of cases, no neighbour objects and the council is required to grant approval. Sadly, councils are very quick to refuse permission when a neighbour does object.
The good news is that we have a high success rate against those refusals. Waltham Forest Council is very much against these larger home extensions but in this case the appeal inspector agreed with the use that the extension would not cause any harm to neighbours and should be approved.
We had a similar success just last month on a similar issue and also in London.
If you have been refused prior approval, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us for some advice on your chances of a successful planning appeal.